And then there are these words from the American who conducted 300 interrogations in Iraq and supervised 1,000:

Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there’s the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives. I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me – unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

That still leaves the administration’s final defense: the fact that there has been no additional terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. The trouble is, this claim obscures the fact that every other administration since Pearl Harbor can boast of the same accomplishment, without having committed any war crimes–the war crimes that the Bush Administration is certainly guilty of, according to retired Major General Anthony Taguba, who authored  the official Army study of the American outrages committed at Abu Ghraib.

What actually distinguishes this administration from all others is the fact that it is the only one in sixty years that allowed a massive foreign attack on American soil, after repeated and explicit warnings that such an assault was imminent.

Despite the beseeching of Mr. Meacham, FCP remains optimistic that Barack Obama will resist the temptation to emulate any part of this example.


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Charles Kaiser is the author of The Gay Metropolis and 1968 in America. He has been media editor for Newsweek, a member of the metro staff of The New York Times, and a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the press and book publishing. To learn more, visit